Improving food and nutrition security

A farmer working in a rice field.

Mercy Corps Nigeria USAID-funded Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity is pleased to announce its first co-investment partnership with Meadow Foods Limited, a Nigerian-based social enterprise. The Rural Resilience Activity’s enterprise innovation fund grant of US$495,000 will directly support Meadow Foods GrowIT Project to onboard an additional 10,000 rice and 10,000 maize farmers into its GrowIT project.

The average smallholder farmer in Adamawa and Gombe states cultivates approximately half to one acre of land and earns less than US$400 annually, which is barely sufficient to cover the needs of a household. While their main asset - the farm - is experiencing deteriorating soil health, farmers lack access to high quality, climate-smart inputs (seeds, fertilizers, crop protection and mechanized land preparation services), as well as adequate and real time advisory to help improve yield and returns on their investments (ROI). With very limited access to finance, including credit and insurance, these smallholder farmers are often unable to scale up production, access safe and cultivable land, or increase their productivity and yields at harvest. All of these contribute to perpetual reliance on family labor and subsistence farming for food alone, with little or no savings.

In its GrowIT Project, Meadow Foods, alongside consortium partners eKutir will invest approximately US$400,000 to work with smallholder farmers, providing an end-to-end digital platform complemented by a human touch that would provide real-time advice to farmers and help them to manage their farm portfolio.

Other benefits include market linkages for the purchase of inputs and sales of produce; Market Intelligence and Return on Investment (ROI) to help them progress from a subsistence farmer to a commercial farmer. SCOPEinsight, a consortium partner for Meadow Foods will provide the tools necessary to help agribusinesses to strengthen their professional acumen which will ultimately lead to better access to finance and markets.

Under this co-investment partnership and consortium, Meadow Foods will take the lead in helping farmers to access quality inputs, extension and advisory services, high value markets and financial services for production on a total of 8,000 hectares of land for rice and maize, thus creating a sustainable farming ecosystem in those locations.

This co-investment partnership has its foundation based on the significant economic potential of the maize and rice market systems in Nigeria. Maize and rice are major staples for the country’s population of over 200 million people and, in partnership with USAID through its Feed the Future initiative, the Government of Nigeria is strongly advocating for, and has in place policies that encourage local production. By supporting smallholder rice and maize farmers to increase yields by 50-100%, this partnership will help farmers build back better, earn more, progress out of poverty, create thousands of jobs, and bring in additional private investments in the agriculture sector, especially in post-conflict affected areas of North East Nigeria.

“We have a significant focus on building the resilience of women and young people as we know that oftentimes, people in these demographic groups are most affected and most vulnerable when there are shocks and stresses such as the pandemic and climate-related challenges and risks’’, says Adaku Omidosu, Co-founder at Meadow Foods. “We are excited about the potential for transformative change and the net positive impact this will have on women and young people,” she further added.

"I am thrilled with the opportunities that the partnership with Meadow Food GrowIT presents for Rural Resilience Activity participants. In particular, bringing digitally-supported services to populations in the North East who may not have had access to information, and access to finance to grow their enterprises and to scale up productions”, says Margarita Aswani, Chief of Party of the Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity.

“Equally, the Activity is grateful for the partnership which will engage more youth and women in employment opportunities in the North East. It is my hope that this partnership will reach beyond the 20,000 rice and maize farmers, tackling food insecurity in the North East and beyond, while enhancing opportunities for micro-entrepreneurs and supporting their journey to self-reliance", she went on to add.

Meadow Foods will be placing a strong emphasis on women and youth, with at least 50% of the new farmers onboarded being women and 20% under 30 years old. The Rural Resilience Activity strongly promotes the inclusion of women and young people in all its co-investment partnerships to avoid exacerbating systematic exclusion of these groups in sectors such as agriculture.

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